My people have this saying that when a corpse is taken across to burial ground, to bystanders it is of no significance; it is just like a piece of wood been taken away for proper keeping. All this while have been around in our society, I have always abhorred the frivolous disposition of junketing around in the developed world centres with scare resources mean much locally. So, I have always been around to see or hear events develop and magnify, some of them scary. I have seen many of such assume the intensity of burning fire and after a while fade off. One of such matters is the issue of herders as murderers. In the last five years their activities have remained a thorn in flesh of many citizens. What is amazing is that inspite of so-called measures to stem it, it is growing instead of abating. These terrorists masquerading as herders have carried on as if they have Executive backing.
Initially, like many others, I had thought this nasty phenomenon was natural given that new challenges were cropping up each new day. One of them is the consequence of high illiteracy, then the pains of closed and failed economy, and not downplaying matters of rapid urbanization. I had ran on the fact that the threat of herders to host communities in all parts of Nigeria was mainly as a result of natural pressures and if this was to be true then a pushback by the security apparachik would be enough to instill fear and provide some good measure of deterrence. Like many others too, I have watched, prayed and appealed. Yet in place of subsiding things got worse.
I only began to think differently when some of my friends began to make so much out of the point that the challenge has religious angle to it, insisting that any sound analysis of the development must take serious note of this fact. Even with these I still believed the ugly development was natural to a reasonable extent until I went into a location and saw «foreigners» opening a large fenced space, going in and coming in great numbers. The sight provoked curiosity. Suddenly too around where I live I began to see empty or abandoned buildings taken over by these «foreigners.»
The question I asked and I am still asking is: is this a case of migration? Did our authorities allow this number of foreigners to come in? For what purposes? Some of these migrants I interviewed while doing mending jobs on my old shoes admitted they were not Nigerians. Many of them admitted coming from Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and other countries in the Sahel region. If so the next question became, how did these people with no education or value find their way into Nigeria and in such a large number, to the extent they are found in every community including the back sides? How did they know such remote locations and what gave these strangers the audacity to just walk in and take over people’s lands. Having read a lot on Islamization process elsewhere I began to worry and suspect a linkage between state power and the brigandage perpetrated by the same group of persons.
Herders we knew before now hardly fought any one; even when things went out of hand they never fought nasty. They limited their grazing to major roads, never venturing into farms, they were friendly and helpful. The new ones look hardened. It would seem they are fighters who have tasted battles in the war ravaged countries of the Sahel. Our later day herders move at night into the remote areas even locals fear to venture. No space is sacred, school premises, personal family compounds, public offices and community farm lands. Last weekend what I suspected all the while came through as Traditional Prime Minister of my community, Umuiku, Ozaa in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State, we were in a crucial meeting when the community women came crying.
We rushed out to meet them. Lo and behold the issue was that these terrorists masked as herders had descended on community farm lands destroying all the edible crops planted at beginning of the year. The cows uprooted and ate up everything. The primitive act covered a very large portion of the farming area. The women were in pains and in deep agony, especially those who borrowed money to do farming. They wanted to see us turn saviours but what really could “bloody civilians” like us offer beyond reporting to civil authorities who themselves have become helpless through frequent orchestration of this perfidy by the same vagabonds whose strength seem to be that their sponsors hold the joker. Now that it has hit me directly and very devastatingly, with the chicken coming home to roost, and given the way it went, I am of the very strong view that the activities of these murderous marauding gang wrongly passed off as herders is contrived and designed to heat up the Nigerian state with the objective to secure concessions that will give an ethnic group demographic advantage in areas outside of their own. Where these went into and what they did is mind bowling.
Somethings still surprise. How did cows in country multiply within such a short time we could have cows everywhere in very large numbers? How are the new herders finding their ways into very remote locations? This could not have been possible without reading the map, despatch of surveillance teams all of them under the management of people who are in charge of national assets. The barbarians are under instruction, which is the reason they are ready to kill. It is conspiracy of religious and ethnic expansionism. Under this dispensation borders were thrown open, one governor told us he new those who come in to attack. He said he went with money to beg them, he didn’t tell us who hired them since in place of arrest he had to plead. Another governor disclosed they wanted Nigeria to be home to all Fulanis in Africa. What a fine dream in twenty first century.
Since the present federal government came in, we have seen religious and ethnic conflicts heighten to unacceptable levels. We first saw vain attempt to impose leaders on Christian churches, from there to cattle colony, now cattle routes and farm estates in all senatorial zones, serious emphasis on cows and their well being at a time the society is borrowing to fund routine services. Not enough deterrent force has been exhibited to show repulsion of the trend. All we hear is «try and live with your neigbours.” The cattle herders associations are the most powerful groups in the country and that on its own tells a story.
I pity those who don›t know that death is looming on a very large scale except they wake up when it is not too to take cognizance of the impending doom and to begin to react appropriately. Those sponsoring this mayhem in the land have a reading of the victims, they describe them as docile and fearful, people incapable of fighting a war of guns. They see them as low people with base morals who are incapable of forging a united front and who at the wave of largesse will fall. And it is happening. Few days ago a governor from Igbo land prayed for another president like the incumbent, he was saying this at a time he should be talking tough on behalf of his people who are increasingly becoming victims of barbarians in town. This is what had emboldened barbarians. If the victim population were like whites by now issues of threats posed by terrorists would have ended, they know the forceful take it by force.
Australia and New Zealand examples intrigue me. During church service moslem fundamentalists will infiltrate the church halls and at some points rise from several points to shoot innocent worshippers. The church authorities tired of complaints originated church made solutions. It was simple and neat, they bought guns and had members sit and stand in different locations, once the invaders got on to their repulsive game, they were taken down and out. It came as surprise to goverment but it rested the recourse to bestiality.
Crying and surrender is no route to peace especially when pitched against a formidable foe. I agree to the saying that those who desire peace must as well prepare for war. Victim population must think out of the box and come up with creative strategies for defending their people. No decent society should tolerate for one minute a situation where human life becomes cheap. Ours is becoming very nasty and unbearable. It is time our leaders call themselves to order.